When Ranjana Clark joined Western Union this past spring, she said goodbye to Wells Fargo. But not to banking.

As head of the revamped Western Union Global Payments business as well as global strategy, part of her mission is to build partnerships with financial institutions that might otherwise view Western as an opponent in wire transfer, remittance and bill-pay services.

Her department was not long in delivering - in July, Western shook hands with Fifth Third Bancorp to provide global money-transfer services and finalized an online bill-pay arrangement with her old shop over at Wells.

Clark is also leading the foray into expanded international payments capabilities, including business-to-business payment and foreign exchange operations. "It's about time for U.S. banks to view Western Union as a partner, and not a competitor," observed Aite Group analyst Gwenn Bezard.

Growing B2B payments through Englewood, Colo.-based Western is a key initiative under Clark, kickstarted by the $370 million acquisition of Canadian-based Custom House that processes cross-border payments for 40,000 small- and medium-sized businesses. The business will provide $100 million in annual revenue, and "help us introduce a new product set, a new capability to Western Union and it helps us attract a whole new set of clients," says Clark, 49.

Clark, who joined in April, brought to Western Union an extensive, strategic banking background. One of her most notable roles was as Wachovia's chief marketing officer from 2007-2009, when she directed a sophisticated analytics operation at the bank that created deeper clusters of customer segments to drive product development alongside marketing. "I think a lot of the marketing work we championed at Wachovia was becoming a customer-insight driven organization," says Clark, a 20-year banking veteran.

Prior to joining Western Union, Clark moved over to Wells' wholesale banking division to briefly supervise customer experience strategies.

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